This foolish for them to think that forcing them

This can be done by simply allowing players to
purchase the items they want

The common reasoning given by these companies for
why they partake in these devious practices, is that the production of their
games is expensive, and that by profits made by these loot boxes and
microtransactions would be covering those costs. Although it may be true that
games are indeed getting expensive, with some games costing as $500 million to
advertise and produce. It does not justify locking content away from players,
and forcing them to pay up more money than the amount they had already paid. It
is not ethically right to force your customers to do something, just because of
they do not do it you won’t get your way. If company’s want their consumer base
to continue supporting them, it is foolish for them to think that forcing them
to pay up is the only way for them to do this. That is why I personally believe
the correctives towards these issues to simply be finding more ways to allow
players to support their favorite developers and companies, without having them
resort to underhanded tactics.   

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The reason why this move attracted so much
attention is because before this issue, EA had never publicly addressed a
problem involving a monetization feature within their games. This is one of the
main reasons most people were led to believe that the backlash EA had received
was a massive one. The article continues on by addressing the fact that a Hawaiian
state representative had begun to look into EA’s use of microtransactions in
the game. Essentially, the backlash against EA had gotten so big that
eventually the Hawaiian government had caught wind of the issues, and had
proceeded to release a video requesting that its viewers to contact their local
politicians to notify them of the practice. The state representatives being Chris
Lee and Sean Quinlan, had spoken to its audience and revealed that they were
now in the process of forming a bill that would restrict the use of loot boxes
from people who were younger than 21. The reasoning behind this being that loot
boxes are essentially “in-game gambling” and is tailored to promote gambling
among children (Crecente, 2017).

All items in that game could be unlocked
through normal progression. Which makes the idea that the only reason this
sudden shift in perspective occurring mainly due to the fact that the
publisher, in this case being known as Electronic Arts, had focused far too
much on trying to increase its own profits. Which would in turn cause them to
begin looking for ways in which they could monetize players. Interestingly
enough, the players who bought the game were very much dissatisfied with the
change, to the point that even the governments of foreign countries got
involved. In an article done by Rolling Stones, it was revealed that Electronic
Arts (EA) have removed the loot boxes from the game and that they would no
longer be implementing them. Although the publisher gave vague reasonings as to
why this was done, it was clear that the real reason as to why they removed the
loot boxes was due to how intense the backlash they received was to them.  The article had addressed the fact that the chief
financial officer of EA had revealed at an investor’s meeting that they would
not be bringing back microtransactions and loot boxes to the game (Crecente, 2017).

            One
thing that is made clear from observing the actions of major gaming companies
nowadays, is that the games they make tend to aim at making the players who buy
these games pay even more money for features within the game. In the past,
games would be sold at a specific price and that would be the only thing
players would have to pay for. But as time progressed more and more companies
having been find new ways to make players pay even more money. This can be seen
when observing a recent issue with another game sequel known as “Star Wars
Battlefront II” was revealed to have randomized loot boxes that contained items
that would give players who paid for them an advantage. Loot boxes are
essentially gambling machines that when rolled will give the players a random
item or ability. The problem that arises in this case comes from the fact that
the game before this one did not have anything like this.

The reason why I believe this to be an ethical
conflict is because at the end of the day, the stockholders are the ones who
hold the most power over these companies. If a company strays to far from the
goal of making profits in order to cater to the pleas and desires of their
customers. In the process of doing this cause the company to lose money and
push its stock holders away. Although it may be deemed ethically right for
publishers to focus more on their customers than on making more money, too much
focus on this can eventually doom the company. But, in this case, gaming
company’s focus too much on making a profit and in turn, resort to exploiting
there customers as much as they can. This is one of the main reasons why I
believe that one ethical resolution one could come to would be that the main
reason as to why gaming companies and publishers indulge themselves in devious
and underhanded actions is because they’re to focused on making profits.

That reading in particular argues that
increasing profits is the only social responsibility a business has. Friedman’s
perspective on the issue of social responsibilities is an interesting one. When
most people would see it as morally right to give multiple social
responsibilities to businesses, He believes that a company should uptake only
one; increase the company’s profits. Initially, one may think that he has a
very vain and selfish outlook on the matter. But as he defends his ideals
throughout the reading one can, at the very least, see where this perspective
is coming from. Essentially, companies should not have any other responsibility
other than increasing profits because it can lead to them using the company’s
money for things outside of the company’s focus.  (Friedman, 2007) Friedman’s perspective when
implemented into the issue of gaming companies and publishers monetizing gamers
instead of trying to satisfy them creates an interesting ethical conflict. The
conflict being whether or not companies should have more social responsibilities
than just increasing their own profits for their own gain.

The culmination of all of these practices done
by these publishers and developers aims at one clear goal; to make as much
money as possible by monetizing players through underhanded tactics. These
tactics being locking content that either should’ve been in a game at launch,
or was already in it from players and then charging them extra some time after.
Purposefully releasing unfinished games and then promising to do better in the
future. Only to make the same mistakes over and over buy releasing “fixes” to
the game that unnecessarily cost the players more money. This idea falls in
line with the common understanding that the only social responsibility a
business has would be simply to make profits. Which was addressed in Milton Friedman’s
“The Social Responsibility of Business Is to increase its Profits”.

In an article done by the American business
magazine “Forbes”, it was revealed that content that was originally in Destiny
2 at launch was now locked behind a DLC called “Curse of Osiris”. Essentially,
content within the game that was free with the purchase of the game from day
one such as levels, weapons and activities, were now locked behind new content
in an effort to convince players to buy the DLC in order to have the complete
game. With the game already being under fire for being released with barely any
content at launch, this issue only furthered the idea that the developers had
purposefully release an unfinished game, and that they were relying on the
“extra” DLC content that would release in the 2 months after to satisfy the
consumers (Kain, 2017).

 

Another issue that presents itself from these
practices is the idea of publishers purposefully releasing unfinished games
with the intention to release the remaining parts in the future for more money
under the guise of “extra content”. This idea comes from the recent practices
of gaming company Bungie, and how they released what was called by many as a
lackluster sequel called “Destiny 2. This is the sequel to the game “Destiny”
which was under fire for a similar practice of releasing an uncompleted game in
hopes that players would be satisfied until they had to pay for more content in
the future. In the case of Destiny 2, the standard addition of the game was
released at a price of $60 at launch. With the other editions such as the collector’s
edition, and the special edition released at a price of $80-$120. Players who
only purchased the standard edition of the game were locked out of content that
the other editions had and were unable to obtain that content without playing.

The scarcity appeal is an advertising strategy
that is used by marketers and publishers to persuade consumers to buy their
product. But unlike regular advertising tactics, this appeal is used to persuade
consumers to buy a product due to a limitation. In the case of games, this
appeal is utilized by publishers in a way that would be seen by most as
unethical. These publishers will lock content within a game that would usually
be unlocked through regular progression behind what is known as a “paywall”.
The content that is locked behind it can only be purchased and in most cases,
give the players who bought the content an advantage over players who did not. Some
examples of content that would give players an advantage would be weapons,
armor, abilities, and boosts. In other cases, the content would not give any
advantages at all, but instead simply be content that would usually be unlocked
from the beginning such as levels or characters. This would leave players who
did not purchase the locked content feeling dissatisfied as they would not be
able to continue playing the game unless they purchased the content.

This practice is very reminiscent of Barbara
J. Philips’ “In Defense of Advertising” and how it was explained that in the past,
advertising was used to promote the utilities and benefits of a specific
product would give you, not in an attempt to manipulate consumers, but simply
to show off how beneficial the products would be for them (Philips, 1997). In
the case of games, this is no longer the case because publishers are using
advertising is used to turn these products into symbols that attempt to
represent one’s identity and uniqueness. This in turn allows publishers to use
advertisements to make players who buy games along with their DLC feel that
they have accomplished something by purchasing the added content. As well as
making players who had not purchased the DLC feeling left out and at a
disadvantage. This is type of manipulation is similar to an appeal used in
advertising known as the scarcity appeal.

The staff of Games-Industry International had
done an article addressing the rising trend of DLC’s back in 2012. Essentially,
a very well-known game retailer called GameStop had revealed that all major
(AAA) game release for the remainder of that year would come with paid DLC on
day one of their releases. I was also revealed that the Game Publishers had
made sure that GameStop had be able to “get almost half of game buyers to add
DLC to their purchase” (GamesIndustry International, 2012). In essence, it was
revealed the publishers were pushing for game retailers to make sure gamers who
attempted to buy AAA games on their release date would be persuaded to purchase
DLC as well. The way in which players were persuaded were through advertisements
that would show off all the content that would come with the DLC that left
players who only bought the game feeling as if they had a disadvantage.

One major ethical dilemma that has been
consistently discussed within the gaming community is that developers are not
putting enough effort into creating and designing innovative and unique games
that aim to satisfy the players. And are instead designing games with the
intent to monetize the game, and to entice players to frequently invest more
money than the initial price paid to buy the game. For example, most AAA games
are usually priced at $60, but as time progresses from the initial release,
publishers are now releasing downloadable content (DLC) that charges players
around $10-$40 for more content to be added to the games. The practice even
went as far to lock players out of content that had already been within game
from the beginning if they had not purchase the DLC.

“Lack of Passion is fatal”, many people have
used this quote to describe their own personal struggles. Whether it’s their
lover’s lack of passion in their relationship, a lack of passion in their own
work, or an overall lack of passion of faith in those around them. It is with
the lack of passion that people begin to lose interest not only in pursuing
their goals, but also lose interest in the opinions of others. There has been a
long debate arguing whether or not creators of any type of media are required
to listen to their customers opinions and adjust themselves if the opinion
should be negative. This is precisely one of a few significant problems game
developers face during the development of their games and is the reason for the
newfound lack of trust between gamers and developers.